literature

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Linguist Claims He's Solved Gulliver's Travels Riddle

Irving Rothman says he's solved the centuries-old mystery

(Newser) - Long have scholars debated the origins of the "nonsense" language in Jonathan Swift's most famous novel, Gulliver's Travels, though Isaac Asimov once said making sense of it is a "waste of time" because "I suspect that Swift simply made up nonsense for the purpose."... More »

Nobel-Winning Author Guenter Grass Dies at 87

German writer known for The Tin Drum faced controversy in recent years

(Newser) - Guenter Grass, the Nobel-winning German writer who gave voice to the generation that came of age during the horrors of the Nazi era but later ran into controversy over his own World War II past and stance toward Israel, has died. He was 87. Grass was lauded by Germans for... More »

Meet the Guys Google Pays to Write Poetry

The Haiku Guys get hundreds of dollars per hour to write personalized poems

(Newser) - Waxing lyrical might not seem like to best route to riches, but it turns out poetry is still pretty popular—and "the Haiku Guys" have been able to turn that appeal into cash, Fast Company reports. What they offer is, essentially, a custom poem-writing service. As the guys' site... More »

Harper Lee's Lawyer: She's 'Humiliated' by Controversy

Assisted-living worker says author is 'sharp as a tack'

(Newser) - As debate swirls over how much input Harper Lee had in a decision to publish a second novel, her lawyer and friend Tonja Carter—who found the text last summer—says the author is certainly capable of making the choice. In fact, Lee is "extremely hurt and humiliated" by... More »

Harper Lee Is Publishing Her 2nd Novel

'Go Set a Watchman' features Scout as an adult

(Newser) - To Kill a Mockingbird will not be Harper Lee's only published book after all. Publisher Harper announced today that Go Set a Watchman, a novel the Pulitzer Prize-winning author completed in the 1950s and put aside, will be released July 14. Rediscovered last fall, Go Set a Watchman is... More »

Scientists 'Read' Words on Ancient, Burnt Scrolls

X-ray technology could lead to great literary finds

(Newser) - It's been centuries since a certain set of ancient scrolls was discovered in 1752, but their words have largely remained a secret. The 300-some rolled-up pieces of papyrus were in Herculaneum, a town pummeled by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. The scrolls were left in a... More »

Homer Wasn't 'a Person': Historian

Iliad , Odyssey were works of a culture, not a man: Adam Nicolson

(Newser) - When we think of The Iliad and The Odyssey, we shouldn't give credit to a single man, says a historian: "It's a mistake to think of Homer as a person," historian Adam Nicolson tells National Geographic . "Homer is an 'it.' A tradition. An... More »

Discovered: How Oscar Wilde's Wife Died

Constance Wilde's early passing may have been tied to misguided surgery

(Newser) - The cause of Constance Wilde's death at age 40 has long been a mystery, but now, 116 years later, it appears to have been solved. Family letters unveiled by Oscar Wilde's grandson suggest that the writer's wife died within days of a gynecological operation gone wrong, the... More »

How a Christmas Gift Changed Harper Lee's Life

And those of generations of readers

(Newser) - If it hadn't been for a New York City couple, the world might never have seen To Kill a Mockingbird. Its author, Harper Lee, was a ticket agent for British Overseas Airways in 1956, and it was difficult for her to find time to write with a separate full-time... More »

Literary 'Queen of Crime' PD James Dies at 94

Her sales have surpassed 10M in the US

(Newser) - PD James, a mystery writer whose books have flown off the shelves, has died at age 94, the New York Times reports. James, who earned the nickname "The Queen of Crime" for her novels, several of which were made into TV shows and movies, died peacefully at home in... More »

New Harry Potter Story Coming on Halloween

Tale of scary Professor Umbridge to be published online

(Newser) - A new Harry Potter story is on its way. JK Rowling has announced the story's debut on Potter website Pottermore.com , the New York Daily News reports. Appropriately for Halloween, the story will deal with the frightening Professor Umbridge, whom Rowling notes is "not only one of the... More »

French Recluse Modiano Wins Literature Nobel

Work explores Jewishness, Nazi occupation of France

(Newser) - Patrick Modiano of France, whose work focuses on the Nazi occupation and its effect on his country, was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature today. The Swedish Academy gave the $1.1 million prize to Modiano "for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable... More »

Harry Potter Casts Spell on Millennials' Political Views

Readers show 'greater support for equality': Anthony Gierzynski

(Newser) - JK Rowling's boy wizard hasn't just entertained millennials—he's worked his magic on their political views as well, writes a political science professor who's studied the subject. After surveying university students, Anthony Gierzynski found that "reading the books correlated with greater levels of acceptance for... More »

Rotting Boat To Become Luxury Literary Tourist Attraction

Owner set to move it to Salinas; captain's nephew opposes plan

(Newser) - For eight months, John Steinbeck's fishing boat has been moldering in Port Townsend, Washington. Now it's likely headed for a new home—but there's some controversy about where that will be, the New York Times reports. The Western Flyer, which Steinbeck chartered in 1940, set the stage... More »

Tolkien's 'New' Labor of Love: Beowulf

'Lost' Beowulf translation published almost 90 years later

(Newser) - In 1926, an Oxford University professor named JRR Tolkien finished a translation of Beowulf—in his words, the "greatest of the surviving works of ancient English poetic art." Tolkien called the 11th-century work "sombre, tragic, sinister," and "curiously real," the Guardian notes. Elements of... More »

Lost Story by Tennessee Williams Published

It's about an old college flame

(Newser) - Fans of Tennessee Williams have a new piece of fiction to savor, reports the BBC . A US literary journal called the Strand has published a long-lost short story from the author of A Streetcar Named Desire called Crazy Night. It features a student named Anna Jean, an apparent reference to... More »

Teacher Stabs Friend in Poetry vs. Prose Dispute

Russian men were drunk at the time, say police

(Newser) - A Russian man has been arrested for allegedly stabbing and killing his friend, because that friend preferred prose to poetry, police revealed today. You will be shocked to learn that both men were drunk. The alleged killer, a 53-year-old former teacher, had been lodging in the 67-year-old victim's home... More »

'Bad Sex in Fiction' Winner Apparently Likes Science

Manil Suri's 'The City of Devi' takes the prize

(Newser) - Let's see how hot this gets you:
  • "Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands—only Karun's body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals
... More »

Catcher In the Rye 'Prequel' Leaks Online

Along with two other unpublished JD Salinger works

(Newser) - Three unpublished stories by JD Salinger have leaked online—including The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls, a sort-of prequel to Catcher in the Rye often cited as the author's greatest unpublished work. PDF scans showed up on a members-only torrent site yesterday, and quickly made their way to Reddit... More »

Man Finishes Life's Work: Translating Famed Porn Tale

David Tod Roy finishes incredible effort with publication of final volume

(Newser) - It's being described by the New York Times as having a "Ulysses'-like level of quotidian detail": an almost 3,000-page book that stretches over five volumes and features more than 4,000 endnotes. It also happens to be incredibly pornographic. David Tod Roy, an 80-year-old emeritus professor... More »

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